I Love Butter

I do.  I love it.

It started in first grade

I don’t know if they still do this in school or not, but they should.  And in case they don’t, I have decided I am going to do it the next time all the grandbebes are here together.  This is an experience I consider to be essential to life.

Mrs. Devin, the tiny, blond woman who taught our 1st grade class in her sleek sheaths and slingback shoes (I found her fashion very Jackie-O, even though Jackie had not added the “O” yet, at that time) gathered our class in a big circle.

We were Iowa kids, yes, but we didn’t live on farms.  We were “city kids” in Iowa, and despite the infamous Iowa State Fair butter sculptures –  we lived in Des Moines and used Imperial Margarine, of course! :)  I hadn’t really had real butter, that I recall, except at my cousin’s house in Missouri a time or two.  Other than that, our typical mid-American diet, even there in Iowa, was about using margarine, or oleo, as it was commonly called then.

neil armstrong butter sculpture at iowa state fair

Neil Armstrong in butter at the Iowa State Fair

But Mrs. Devin was about to change my world forever as she gathered us around her chair that day.  She was going to teach us about rich, sweet butter. And how it came from cream, which came from cow’s milk.  Now being the daughter of a milkman (Anderson-Erikson Dairy), you’d think perhaps I’d have thought of this.  But I hadn’t.

We watched, wide-eyed, as Mrs. Devin poured the thick cream into a mason jar, added a dash of salt and tightened the lid.  Then we passed that jar around and we each got to shake it a certain number of times.  I am not sure what that number was, 20?  25?  Then we’d pass it to the next person, all of us chanting the count, watching the jar to see if butter would magically appear.

And suddenly, at some point, after we’d each had 2 or 3 turns at shaking it up, it was ready.  It happened.  It actually became butter and this is when the splendor and love of butter descended into my very soul like an Apollo spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.  Yes – with that much 1960s force!

Mrs Devin opened a sleeve of saltines, the really good saltines.  And she spread some of our very fresh, barely yellow butter on the little squares.  She placed three on a napkin for each of us and we began tasting the fruit of our labors and oh.my.great.goodness!  It was so delicious.  It was amazing.  It was beyond wonderful.  I was hooked.

I went home raving about it to my mom, who told me, having bought into mad-men marketing, that margarine was way healthier and had less calories and wasn’t as “rich”  (the term being used in a rich-is-bad-for-you way) and all that other ridiculous nonsense the mad-trans-fatty-hydrogenated-evil-people were pushing back then to get people to buy plasticized-toast-spread.  I wanted butter, real butter.  I had touched the divine!  To no avail. 

Though my mom wasn’t about to buy me cream for butter-making, I wasn’t dissuaded.  I even tried making it with milk.  I shook and shook and shook a jar of milk to no avail. *sniff

But the taste of that savory treat on a beautiful 1st grade afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa has lingered on my tastebuds, lo, these many (many) years…never forgotten.

I don’t really believe in margarine at all now.  I certainly don’t believe in oleo.  But I believe in butter.  I love butter. I love that Julia loved it and Paula Deen, too, though she seems to be tempering herself now.  But I love it.  I simply do.  And it is my mission to share it with my little band of bebes, so they will love it, too.

And now, a word about butter from Julie-Julia.  You watch this while I go make some toast and spread you-know-what on it:

2 thoughts on “I Love Butter

  1. So much fun! And yeah for creative teachers!

    And we would be able to do the same thing today, with some precautions…

    1. FDA presence, warning that this butter is not pasteurized.
    2. FEMA agent to ensure no e coli or salmonella outbreaks were reported in the saltines.
    3. AFL-CIO- make sure all children and ethnicity have the same number of turns shaking.
    4. TSA – to make sure no plastic knives were smuggled into the classroom to be used for their own nefarious spreading purposes.
    5. CA (Cracker Agent) would check that Mrs. Devin also offered, gluten free, unleavened, halal, non-msg, rice crackers and un-salted tops to everyone to preclude any offense of any kind.
    6. PETA representative present to assure that no cow’s rights were violated in the production of this cream and that they gave it up willingly.
    7. OSHA had checked that the lid was on tight enough.
    and finally…
    8. The Principal, at least one staff member and a PTA representative would need to be in attendance to make sure that none of the rights, thoughts, or beliefs of any student would be called into question.

    “We don’t like school, we LOVE school! ”

    (ps, I taught high school too for a couple of years :)

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